By Al Bates

If there had been a competition in early Prescott matching a man’s name and his occupation, jeweler Lucien Bonaparte Jewell would have been the prohibitive favorite.

He was born in New York in 1833, and came to the west as a young fortune seeker gifted with multiple talents.  In addition to experience as a watchmaker and jeweler, he was a talented musician who was remembered by a daughter as one who “could play every musical instrument except the piano and pipe organ.”

At the outbreak of the American Civil War he left Colorado for New Mexico where he enlisted in the New Mexico Volunteers.  His commanding officer, Kit Carson, assigned 2nd Lieutenant Jewell as bandmaster for his regiment.  Unfortunately the establishment of regimental bands for volunteer units was almost immediately disallowed.  Thus in November 1862, after the Confederate invasion of New Mexico was thwarted, he was honorably discharged as a bandmaster who never had a band to direct.  Just over a year later he was at the original Fort Whipple in Chino Valley looking for opportunities.

The first edition of the Arizona Miner newspaper published at Fort Whipple on March 9, 1864, contained just seven advertisements including one for “L. B. Jewell, Watchmaker and Jeweller [sic].”  From information in the 1864 Special Territorial Census it appears that he arrived either a the same time as Governor Goodwin’s territorial founding party or hot on their heels.

His multiple talents came into evidence on July 4, 1864, when he was tapped to provide the music for the newly established town of Prescott’s first Independence Day celebration.  He rose to the challenge by forming a string ensemble remembered as consisting of two violins and a banjo.  Their scheduled numbers were, The Star Spangled Banner, The Grave of Washington, and The Battle Cry of Freedom.  The only account of their performance comes from Daniel Ellis Conner, who remembered the performances as, “feeble tones, pleasing enough in the open air, but appeared strangely lost on this occasion.”

By this time Jewell had established his watch making and jewelry business on Goodwin Street, across from the Plaza, but music was ever on his mind.  His next contribution to Prescott’s musical tradition was a year later with the formation of Arizona’s first brass band with Jewell as bandmaster and cornet player and Conner on valve trombone.  That group disbanded in 1867 when Jewell moved to California, but restarted after his return to Prescott in 1869.

The Miner aided in the restart by printing a request to collect the old instruments especially the valve trombone “formerly played by D. Ellis (‘Kentuck’),” (therein using both of Daniel Ellis Conner’s aliases).  In an aside, the Miner added, “[W]e are informed that a full set of instruments will arrive here in a few days, unless the Apaches should take into their heads to delay them on the road.”

When Jewell returned to Prescott he brought his new young bride, Lenora Bowen with whom he later had three children, a son and two daughters.  However, her poor health—apparently aggravated by Prescott’s mile-high altitude—would be instrumental in Jewell and his family returning to California just a few years later.

In the meantime Jewell played a prominent role in Prescott community affairs.  In addition to his jewelry business, he resumed a prominent role in providing brass band concerts to the community.  Also, he served as Prescott Precinct’s Justice of the Peace in 1871 and in 1873 he served a one-year term as Prescott’s first mayor.  He also was a member and early officer of Arizona Lodge No. 1 of I.O.O.F.

It was gold that first brought Lucien Jewell to the Prescott area in early 1864 and he was involved in mine ownership from the start, appearing in the Journal of the Walker (quartz) Mining District in January 1865, as co-owner of the “Great Eastern Lode” with Johnny Behan—later of Tombstone notoriety.  Jewell had a background role in the summer 1875 discovery and early development of the rich Peck Mine in the Bradshaw Mountains, and his wife Lenora was listed as one of the four incorporators of the mining company.  In 1878 he was mentioned in the Prescott Enterprise newspaper as secretary of the company.

Lenora Jewell and her two surviving children left Prescott for her health in November 1875.  Lucien followed her to California the following year.  He died in the Veterans Home of California at Napa in 1903 at age 74.

“Days Past” is a collaborative project of the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Prescott Corral of Westerners International (www.prescottcorral.org). This and other Days Past articles are also available at www.sharlot.org/library-archives/days-past. The public is encouraged to submit ideas for articles to dayspastprescott@gmail.com. Please contact SHM Library & Archives reference desk at 928-445-3122 Ext. 14, or via email at dayspastprescott@gmail.com for information.